It’s hard to believe that after losing three conference games and firing the former head coach the Wisconsin Badgers (4-4 overall, 2-3 in conference) are still in the hunt for Big Ten West Division but here we are. Strange times 2022. This week it’s the Terrapins of Maryland (6-2 overall, 3-2 in conference) swimming into Madison. Let’s see how they’re doin…
Taulia Tagovailoa is expected to make his return tomorrow. Yeah, you may have heard of his brother who’s currently having one of the best seasons of his career and leading the NFL in QBR. But let’s get back to his brother who, even though coming off an injury, is just as dangerous as Tua. Give him time and he’ll create magic with even the smallest of windows to throw through. This is a quarterback who’s got one of the highest completion percentages in all of college football at 72.5%, with over 2,001 yards on 171 completions, and a rating of 157.6. Dangerous!
Good luck trying to lock down any of his targets. Maryland has eight different players with over 100 yards receiving, six of whom have over 200 yards, and three of those have over 300 yards. One thing is for sure Tagovailoa loves to spread the ball around. While the defensive front line might not be the most dangerous in the league the strong secondary of Wisconsin will have their work cut out for them.
The Maryland rushing attack isn’t too dissimilar from Wisconsin’s. In fact as far stats go their almost exactly the same when it comes to team rushing. The Badgers have literally only rushed for one more yard so far this season than Maryland, 1,372 yards compared to the Terrapin's 1,371 yards. They use a combination of running backs, sort of thunder and lightning, in Maryland with Roman Hemby and Antwain Littleton. While Hemby gets the majority of the touches depending on the situation both are equally capable of scoring with seven touchdowns for Hemby and six for Littleton.
The defense is nothing exceptional but it’s also nothing to be overlooked. Overall it’s a fairly solid unit giving up an average of fewer than twenty-five points and just under 400 yards per game. The rushing defense is a little more put together than the pass defense. As far as turnovers go they’re able to cause some chaos but nothing as dangerous as the Badgers unit; they have 12 turnovers on the season. If a confident Mertz and Engram are able to execute in the way they were able to versus the Boilermakers then there’s a strong chance we could be looking at Leonard’s third win as Badger head coach.
This team might not get as much attention as some of college football’s thoroughbreds but it should be noted that the Terrapins have scored at least 27 points in 10 straight games, the longest such streak in program history. Tennessee, TCU, Georgia, and UCLA are the onlyteams with longer active streaks in the power five conferences.
Tagovailoa’s form and whether the Wisconsin secondary can cause problems will be the deciding factors in this game. If the Badger offense can control the clock Tagovailoa’s Terrapins might not be able to produce as many points as they typically do. Though this game won’t be getting a lot of attention from the national media, it isn’t really worthy of it, all Badger fans will be looking to this game as another test of Leonard’s leadership and prep as head of the program. I imagine he’s up to the challenge.